The only complaint I have with GlassWire is that the free plan blocks most of the advanced features. I wanted to see if reliable free firewall platforms with premium features exist. Of all the free firewall software I downloaded and tested, only three were acceptable. The others slowed down my computer, didn’t have the features I needed, or were not user-friendly. My top choice is pfSense, a popular open-source option with a solid set of features. In addition to the firewall, it includes a WireGuard VPN, speed management, and fault tolerance.

Quick Guide: 3 Free GlassWire Alternatives in 2023

What I Look for in a Free GlassWire Alternative

GlassWire is by far the best firewall that I’ve used for my PC. It has a robust collection of features that give me peace of mind knowing that my network is secure. Therefore, when looking for an alternative, I need to find a program that will block hackers from stealing my data. Here are some of the criteria I needed to add a firewall to my recommended list.

Ease of Use: Firewalls are managed through a complex interface, but I’m looking for something as easy as GlassWire. I don’t want to read manuals and worry that I didn’t activate the right protection or that I blocked websites that I need from opening. Complete Protection: The firewall needs to have powerful security that blocks all types of intrusions, prevents malicious websites from opening, and secures my data but doesn’t slow down my operating system. Real Time Alerts: I tried too many firewalls that didn’t notifiy me of any issues unless I checked the dashboard. I want to get alerts when someone is attacking my network so that I can take the proper action Run by Itself: Once I customize my firewall settings, I don’t want to open the software again, except for rare occasions when I have to grant a website or app permission to run. A program that requires frequent changes or updates is too high-maintenance for me. Free: The only reason to switch from a powerful firewall that works well is to save a few dollars. If the software isn’t free, I may as well stay with GlassWire.

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3 Best Free GlassWire Alternatives with Similar Features

1. pfSense: Open-Source Software with Multi-WAN Capability

pfSense is easy to set up on a PC, and it’s compatible with most computers. The default settings allow all outgoing traffic from IPv4 and IPv6 sites, and it restricts all incoming traffic. You can adjust the rules and create rules by enabling the options in the settings menu. It also comes with preconfigured rules for NAT (Network Address Translation) built specifically for local networks. However, if you’re running a web server from your network, you will need to open the Port Forwarding tab and change the settings. pfSense has a good anti-spoofing feature. It can recognize and block packets that have fake IP addresses, thereby increasing your security. GeoIP Blocking is a useful feature if you run a website and you don’t want to waste bandwidth on traffic from regions where you don’t offer service. One feature that I like about GlassWire that I don’t see with pfSense are customizable IoT rules. You can’t easily monitor which devices connect to your network, limit the bandwidth, or block specific devices from accessing the internet. As an open-source platform, pfSense is highly secure since anyone can inspect and adjust the source code. This makes it nearly impossible to hide malicious code that can create a vulnerability for hackers to penetrate your network.

2. ZoneAlarm: Protecting from Inbound and Outbound Attacks

When you set up ZoneAlarm, you can choose between the Auto Learn and Max Security settings. The Auto Learn option is the default setting, and it’s recommended that you use it for the first three weeks after installing the firewall. It uses this time to learn which programs you use and marks them as safe. Once ZoneAlarm learns about your preferences, a notification will appear asking if you want to increase the protection to Max Security. It will increase the protection, although the downside is that you’ll receive a lot more alerts, many of which aren’t dangerous or relevant. Some of the other features included with ZoneAlarm are an automatic file lock, which prevents any malicious or unauthorized changes. You can also turn on Game Mode to automate notifications so you can focus on your gaming. ZoneAlarm can password protect your computer privacy and security settings, preventing anyone else from making any changes. GlassWire is much easier to set up and manage than ZoneAlarms, although both firewalls have similar features.

3. TinyWall: Create Exceptions to Auto Learn Rules

The lightweight TinyWall firewall provides reliable protection for your network. When you first install it on your computer, it runs a comprehensive scan of your device so you can add all your programs to a safe list. There is also the option to manually add programs, processes, files, and applications to this list. You can customize this list to allow the programs to have permanent access or be restricted to specific hours or days. It has an Auto Learn mode, where it learns which programs you use, so you won’t have to worry about them being blocked. After a few days, you can switch to the regular protection mode, which provides a higher level of protection. One nice thing about TinyWall is that even with the stricter protections, there aren’t too many distracting notifications. If you notice your bandwidth is being used up quickly or your internet speeds are not as fast as it usually is, check the Connection monitor. This gives you a list of all the connected devices, and you can immediately terminate their connections if it’s a device you don’t recognize. TinyWall gives you the option to send any connected device straight to VirusTotal to instantly scan it and make sure it isn’t a virus. GlassWire excels at protecting the network from exploit attacks, a feature that, unfortunately, TinyWall is lacking. However, it does protect from known viruses but you will need to create exceptions for some web-enabled programs, which get annoying after a while.

Is pfSense free?

pfSense is free and open-source. While the price is right, you will be giving up on some of the advanced features and protections that you were getting with GlassWire. 

Is pfSense a secure firewall?

Yes, pfSense has several features that make it a reliable option for a free firewall. It prevents unauthorized users from accessing your network or changing your security and privacy settings. It also makes it easy to create rules and exceptions for the programs you frequently use. However, as a free, open-source program, you shouldn’t expect updates and bug fixes as quickly as you would expect with a firewall like GlassWire, which is run by a professional team.

Which is better, pfSense or GlassWire

While pfSense is my top free alternative for GlassWire, I would still recommend staying with GlassWire. If you don’t want to pay for advanced firewall protection, the free version of GlassWire has all the tools you need to secure and monitor your network, prevent attacks, and manage IoT devices.